Microgreens are young plants that vary from 1-3 inches in size. Even though they are small, they pack a more nutritional and healthier punch than larger field crops. Microgreens are a great way to grow fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and herbs in your homes. Microgreens have high antioxidant content, which reduces the risk of many deadly diseases like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
However, botanists tried growing microgreens without soil (hydroponics method), and it turned out to be a success. But what exactly is the purpose of this?
What Is Hydroponic Method?
“Hydro” meaning water and “ponics” are two Greek words meaning labor. Hence plants grown hydroponically do not need soil to get their nutrients instead a simple water-based solution is a perfect substitute for it.
How to grow Microgreens without Soil? Step by Step Guide
Make sure all the materials that you are using, for instance, the growing tray and spray bottle should be brand new. This eliminates the chance of your water or nutrients getting mixed with any other kind of unwanted chemical that might harm your microgreens.
As for the water, it should be pH balanced, from about 5.5 to 6.5. Use pH tester to determine the pH of water you use. It is ideal to use distilled or rainwater but you can also use tap water. However, tap water should be boiled or let sit for 24 hours to remove the chlorine in it.
To lower the pH of water you can use Phosphoric acid, and to raise it, wood ash or lime are a good option. Another thing you need to have before setting up the hydroponic system are grow mats, which can be made of hemp, jute, or felt. It is used to absorb the nutrient solution for the microgreens and acts as a bed for them to extend their roots and have a stable ground.
The Step by Step Guide
- With the water you’ve prepared, add the nutrients of your choice, and soak the growing mat completely.
- Drain off excess water from the growing mat and then place it in your growing tray.
- Add your seeds, sprinkling them evenly on your growing mat. Make sure to read the packaging to know the seed density since each microgreen needs a different seed density. Then spray the seeds with water or a nutrient solution.
- For the seeds to germinate and sprout, it is essential to keep them in the dark for about 5 days, depending on the type of plant. Make sure they are in complete darkness. Use a light-proof cover or simply turn over the tray onto another.
- Mist the seeds after every 12 hours or so again, depending on the type of seeds. When they germinate and finally sprout, remove the cover and put it under fluorescent lighting.
- You can now start watering them with little amounts of water of balanced pH or a weak hydroponic solution. Dilute it to ¼ of the original, concentrated solution.
- After 10-12 days, almost all varieties of microgreens are ready to be harvested. With a sharp blade gently cut the base of their stems.
- Quickly rinse and dry them properly. Moreover, to store them for a longer time, place them between a moist paper towel in a Ziploc bag and store in the refrigerator.
Advantages of Microgreens without soil:
Soil causing a mess?
First and foremost, there’ll be no more running around the house, cleaning all those soil tracks. No more fear of accidentally spilling the tray full of dirt. It is an easy and effortless way to grow your microgreens with even more benefits.
Save water, save the earth
Growing your microgreens hydroponically also requires way less water than normal. About 20 times less to be precise. So you can imagine the amount of water and time you’ll save. Moreover, it’s absolutely fine to re-use the water in the hydroponics system.
Easy to setup
The hydroponics system is clean and simple. With a growing tray of your own measurement (10” x 20” recommended), microgreen seeds, T5 or T8 fluorescent lights for heat, a growing medium obviously with nutrients, a spray bottle, and pH testing strips. A small corner in your house will be more than enough.
The best part about growing microgreens without soil is having control over which nutrient you want more and which you want less. You can even control the amount of fertilizer, which will then affect your plant growth; too much can also destroy your plants.
Disadvantages of Growing Microgreens Hydroponically:
Some people believe that microgreens without soil are not a good idea at all. Let’s see why:
Time and commitment
With an era where being independent and earning enough to provide for yourself, you don’t have time to be completely dedicated to one thing. And as far as microgreens are concerned, they need a lot of care and attention. Every hour at least.
If not cared for properly, not only are your microgreens wasted but so is your time and money, which you invested in setting up resources to grow them. So only grow your plants hydroponically when you know you’ll be able to give them adequate time and care.
You Need Experience and Technical Knowledge
The equipment and method used to grow microgreens needs scientific knowledge and expertise. Even the slightest mistake can disturb your whole setup and cause a mess, with or without soil. Every decision you make from the pH of the water to your nutrient solution affects the yield of your plants.
Takes a Lot of Time to Give Results
Growing microgreens without soil has become widely famous and with that, people tried different equipment, cheap and expensive, and different ways to grow microgreen hydroponically. However, many have claimed that the method with soil is way better than without soil.
From the difference in expenses spend on setting up the system to the yield, the method with soil wins every time. The yield can be produced more quickly and in a larger quantity. Nutritionists also agree that microgreens that are grown in soil tend to have more nutritional value.
So, basically everything has its pros and cons. You can grow plants at home with or without soil, and it all depends upon you and which method is more convenient for you.
If you want to start growing vegetables and fruits at home, then make sure to do your research as deeply as you can; to know every aspect in case you ever need help.